The Summer Heat in the South

The summer heat in the South, to most, is a stifling nuisance — a hamper on comfortable existence. But, to me, it is the freedom of motionlessness — the contentment that comes only from the kind of rest you get when rest is the only thing you can do. It is embodied in the couple rocking away on the front porch swatting at the flies that cling to the sweat on their faces and once icy tea glasses. And yet, they sit in the swelter rather than retreat to the automated cool of the air conditioner, knowing the heat and outdoors will nourish them more than blockading themselves within.

The air is wet and full from either a recent storm past or one soon to come. Perhaps one day, a hundred years from now, a doctor will open a cadaver from somewhere in the South and realize that the lungs have begun to morph into internal gills, a miracle of evolution which would allow the body to fully accept and use the pseudo-air given it for so long.

“Well, you know, Jim’s family has lived in Louisiana for 400 years now. It was bound to happen sometime,” the surgeon will remark and then move on, as if nothing could be more natural or expected.

The children playing in the sprinklers plop down into the grass to dry, joying in the simmer of the sun on their wet skin, joining me in my motionless revelry. All is still and quiet, save for the fan, which whirs overhead, and the bugs and birds that seem to feel neither heat nor cold, but always go about their business in the same way. The clouds even have not changed for hours. They too sit listening to the bugs and the birds.

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